Stoke 1 Arsenal 0: Steven Nzonzi jibes Gunners by admitting they don't like it when you 'kick them a little bit'
Nzonzi was revelling after the Potters 1-0 victory on Saturday in which he said the Arsenal squad crack when you pressure them and get stuck in
Stoke midfielder Steven Nzonzi has admitted that the way to beat Arsenal is to “kick them a little bit” following the Potters 1-0 Premier League victory on Saturday. The defeat saw Arsene Wenger’s record at the Britannia Stadium remain at just one victory in the eight visits.
Speaking after the win, Nzonzi believes that the way to bring down the Gunners is to get stuck into them and make life uncomfortable for the league title contenders, who slipped behind Liverpool in the table after the defeat which leaves them four points off leaders Chelsea.
“We know that Arsenal play good football but when you start kicking them a little bit, it gets harder for them,” said Nzonzi. “They don’t like it, we know that. We don’t care. We’ll keep on doing it, being strong and trying to be as good as we can be on the ball.”
Arsene Wenger has publicly criticised Stoke’s tactics in the past when they were under the guidance of former manager Tony Pulis, in which he labelled their style of play akin to “rugby tactics”. The relationship between the two clubs is strained to say the least, following the horrific double leg break that Aaron Ramsey suffered at the Britannia in 2010.
Pulis may now be gone, but Mark Hughes now occupies the home dugout in the Potteries and his record against Arsenal is not too shabby – victory on Saturday saw Hughes become the first manager to beat Arsenal with four different clubs – and has put a serious dent in Arsenal’s title aspirations at the start of a tough March schedule.
Wenger couldn’t help but take a swipe at Stoke after the match, claiming they were “very lucky” to emerge victorious via a Jon Walters penalty after Laurent Koscielny was deemed to have handled the ball in the area – a decision that the 64-year-old Frenchman labelled “a gift”.
Wenger, the longest serving manager currently in the Premier League, also defended his side over criticism that they have developed of collapsing at the same point in the season. Their results over February and March were certainly below-par in 2008 and 2011, and in other season’s they have been knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup over the same period.
“Look at our results at the crucial point in the season and you would be surprised,” Wenger stressed.
“Somebody says something that is not checked and everyone repeats it and it becomes an opinion, even if the facts don’t show it. Our end of season has always been very strong.”
Across the period of February and March, Arsenal have recorded a win ratio of 54.8% since 2008, having won 40 of their 73 matches across the two-month schedule in each season. Perhaps more tellingly though is the number of defeats in that same time, with 17 losses outweighing their 16 draws. On the whole, a 54.8% win ratio isn’t going to do you any favours in securing silverware at the business end of the season, and with a number of those defeats coming in cup competition, it does show a tendency to slip up when it matters most.
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